When Mary was two or three she developed the habit of sometimes pitching some whooping, screaming crying fits in the grocery story when she didn’t get a treat she wanted. (I can already hear half of you saying, “whoop her butt” but I’m not like that.) She would continue thrashing and crying in the buggy as we crossed the parking lot. I’d hiss all the cliché mom stuff, “Stop that right now or blah blah blah.”
Then one day she started her “possessed by a demon” act and I pulled my camera out right there in the parking lot and took a picture, with the flash. She was shocked into silence for a second and then continued with only half the passion.
The next time she melted down I just smiled. She slowed down then tried to come back even louder. I started laughing. Then she got really mad, I kept on smiling and laughing as I put the groceries in the car. She continued wailing, then downgraded to a snivel and finally cried softly as I put her in her car seat. Then she was silent. She had been defeated!!
At the age of two her baby brain figured out her bad behavior wasn’t upsetting me and therefore wasn’t working
I have used that exact same method over and over for the past twenty seven years on kids who were two, ten, thirteen and sixteen. It still works…most of the time.
Do not let your kid bully, trick or coheres you into giving in. You are the parent.
Sandor loves to ride his dirt bike on Sunday afternoons. He waits all week for his three hours on that bike. A couple of weeks ago I told him he had to put his clean clothes away (in the appropriate drawers, not crammed into one) and clean up his room before we would leave.
Thirty minutes latter he said he was finished but that was not true. His room was still a mess, the bed was made but it looked like there was a bear sleeping in it. His floor was still littered with legos, drum sticks and junk.
“Nope, you know that’s not clean,” I said smiling. “I’m gonna take a shower.”
“But Mom, I could have been out there an hour ago,” he whined. “How about I’ll clean it up perfectly when I get home?”
“Nope.” At that point some kids will melt down, throw a fit and get mad. THAT’S OK! Let them self destruct but don’t react. Just walk away and take a nice long shower. Eventually, like Mary in the shopping cart, they will realize that button doesn’t work anymore. And if he misses riding his dirt bike this week, he’ll probably get his room clean next week.
“Please Mom?” Sandor said. I just shook my head, kind of hugged him and smiled. He knew it was a classic case of Hampoland’s “yes for a yes” policy. When you say yes to me, I’ll say yes to you and we’re both happy.
Kids are smart, they know how to get to you, they will keep doing what works in to get what they want. And they know if you don’t stick to your guns they will win every time. Either you have to train them or they are training you. So you have to stand firm, but it’s a whole lot easier and more effective if you don’t get mad, sad and frustrated. If you do that, you’re punishing yourself….and that’s not the point. You just want to make your kid do right.
One more thought, take control as soon as possible cause when they get older things will get a lot worse.
PS: If you know a publisher or literary agent who might like me……